Over a 12-season NBA career, Mark Price had one of the best shots in the NBA and one of the best commands of the pick-and-roll, the foundation of most pro offenses.
The Charlotte Bobcats need to fix Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s jump shot and refine Kemba Walker’s choices in pick-and-roll sets. Enter Price.
When new-assistant Price wasn’t working on Kidd-Gilchrist’s shot technique this week, he was probably at the other end of the practice gym, teaching Walker a floater that could make him more effective driving off the pick.
New coach Steve Clifford hired Price as an assistant, after Price had worked with several teams in more of a player development/shot doctor capacity. He’s jumped quickly into the mix as the Bobcats prepare for their first Las Vegas summer league game Friday (10 p.m., vs. the San Antonio Spurs on NBATV.)
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“He’s been through it. I know I have the opportunity to learn from him,’’ Walker said of Price. “We were talking about trying to get guys off-balance – going up with the floater rather than (always) going all the way to the basket.’’
Price and Walker are both 6-foot. Price was one of the best-shooting guards in NBA history, going 47 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the foul line. Part of that was pure accuracy. Part of it was finding easier ways to get quality shot attempts.
“When you’re smaller – and I was smaller, so I can relate – you have to be creative in how you get shots off,’’ Price said. “(Against) the big guys in this league, the deeper you take it the tougher it is to score in this league.’’
The other area Price can help Walker in is decision-making. There were times last season when Walker would react to a trap by throwing the pass to whichever teammate was open. In general that’s a good instinct, but only if the player catching the ball can finish the play.
“It’s not just (the willingness to) pass the ball, it’s putting them in spots where they can be successful,’’ Price said. “He may be open but he’s 20 percent when he shoots from that spot.’’
The challenge with Kidd-Gilchrist is more fundamental. He arrived in the NBA with a jump shot loaded with flaws: Sidespin off his wrist, a release after the top of his jump. Kidd-Gilchrist attempted nine 3-pointers last season, making two. An effective NBA small forward needs to be a better shooter.
“His wrist and his elbow is his biggest thing right now. But he’s never been taught good footwork and balance,’’ said Price. “Most people believe shooting starts from the waist up and I’m a believer it starts with the feet. If you don’t start right, it’s hard to finish right.’’
Price says Kidd-Gilchrist has always gotten by on athleticism and skills in other areas, so the shooting was never really addressed until he turned pro. There’s no quick fix.
“I love his attitude – we get up shots before and after practice every day. He knows that’s a weakness in his game right now,’’ Price said. “It’s not going to be an overnight process. He’d like for it to be fixed tomorrow, but he’s going to have to be patient and trust me. I have no doubt he’ll get better.’’